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‘The Only Way to Truly Scale Blockchains Is to Parallelize Processing’ Says Piers Ridyard

‘The Only Way to Truly Scale Blockchains Is to Parallelize Processing’ Says Piers RidyardDespite being touted as the possible panacea, decentralized finance (defi) still faces obstacles which greatly diminish the prospects of mainstream adoption, asserts serial entrepreneur and CEO of Radix DLT, Piers Ridyard. Ridyard added that while defi is seen as “a fantastic proof of concept,” widespread adoption of this alternative to traditional finance is only possible […]

Circle announces USDC launch for Cosmos via Noble network

Visa: Token bridges were a favored target for thieves in 2022

The fraudsters would normally exploit the smart contracts to allow for the approval of unauthorized transactions.

According to the global payment provider Visa, 2022 became a record-breaking year for cryptocurrency thefts, with over $3 billion stolen in on-chain thefts. Cryptocurrency bridge services were a favored target for threat actors. 

Visa published the biannual threats report on March 20. On 24 pages, the document contains data on all sorts of violations that occurred in the digital payments system globally last year — from plastic card fraud schemes to malware. A separate section is dedicated to cryptocurrency and digital platforms.

Quick history of blockchain-based major thefts. Source: Investopedia

It pays special attention to token bridges and their vulnerability. Commonly the fraudsters exploit a bridge service’s smart contracts to either forge new transactions or allow for the approval of unauthorized transactions. The total amount of funds, stolen via token bridges, totals $2 billion from January through early October 2022.

The report also mentions a crypto-focused phishing campaign, whose actors were impersonating a crypto exchange company in emails to harvest the victim’s account login data. Once the real exchange prompts the threat actor for the two-factor authentication (2FA), he would use the spoofed site to prompt the victim to enter their 2FA information. And then would use the real 2FA from the spoofed site to complete the login process.

Related: ​​Visa’s crypto strategy targets stablecoin settlements

In February, it was reported that, along with its competitor Mastercard, Visa would delay the launch of new partnerships with crypto firms due to high-profile bankruptcies in the industry. However, Cuy Sheffield, head of product at Visa, dubbed the report inaccurate and reassured that Visa would "continue to partner with crypto companies to improve fiat on and off ramps” and “build new products that can facilitate stablecoin payments.”

On Feb. 20, the Bitcoin market cap flipped the market cap of Visa for the third time in history. By Mar. 14, the gap between the two reached more than $20 billion in favor of BTC.

Circle announces USDC launch for Cosmos via Noble network

ChatGPT won’t replace developers – ETHDubai devs weigh in

The latest version of ChatGPT is able to identify Ethereum smart contract vulnerabilities and exploits - but will it replace developers in the future?

The newest version of ChatGPT has caused a stir online, scoring high marks for SAT tests and highlighting vulnerabilities and exploits in Ethereum smart contracts.

GPT-4 is the latest version of the highly influential artificial intelligence (AI) language model, boasting ‘human-level performance on various professional and academic benchmarks,’ according to its developer OpenAI.

Aside from outstanding scores on a range of various professional and academic benchmarks, GPT-4 has also demonstrated the ability to review Ethereum smart contracts, highlighting vulnerabilities and even suggesting potential ways to exploit the code.

Coinbase director Conor Grogan shared a prompt dialogue with ChatGPT in which the AI chatbot ‘highlighted a number of security vulnerabilities’ before verifying a method to exploit the contract.

Related: 10 ways blockchain developers can use ChatGPT

Perhaps more interesting is that ChatGPT’s recommendation checks out, given that the exact same smart contract had been hacked in 2018 via the same method that the language model suggested.

On the back of the latest ChatGPT upgrade and its potential to review, suggest and provide insights to Ethereum smart contract developers, Cointelegraph journalist Ezra Reguerra explored the topic in conversation with attendees at the ETHDubai conference this week.

Cointelegraph journalist Ezra Reguerra in conversation with blockchain developer Salman Arshad at the ETHDubai conference.

Blockchain developer Salman Arshad highlighted the connection that ChatGPT has with blockchain given the focus on Web3 in security and auditing processes. Smart contract auditors are costly and ChatGPT offers a timely and cost-efficient way to review code:

“ChatGPT and AI tools are a blessing, they are not our enemies and are not here to end the career of a developer.”

Arshad added that ChatGPT’s broad knowledge base is its strength, but it still requires human input for specific business logic and prompts. The benefit is that developers can get far more work done in far less time by using AI-powered tools:

“You know what your company wants to do, you can tell ChatGPT and it can perfectly transform your commands into a smart contract, auditing process, document or white paper.”

Another blockchain Syed Ghazanfer also highlighted the collaborative nature of ChatGPT, which still remains far more beneficial to a wide range of users than the potential threat of automating processes and replacing human workers:

“I'm really in favor of ChatGPT. For it to replace you, you have to communicate requirements which are not possible in native English. That's why we invented programming languages.”

Ghazanfer added that ChatGPT will remain a useful tool for developers, automating processes like reading and condensing full documentation.

As previously explored by Cointelegraph, ChatGPT is proving significantly useful for developers to solve coding problems. The AI-powered tool also promises to be useful for security audits of smart contracts and Web3 platforms.

Circle announces USDC launch for Cosmos via Noble network

Europarliament approves Data Act that requires kill switches on smart contracts

The act would encourage data sharing, but it imposes requirements for smart contracts used in this setting that have alarmed members of the crypto community.

The European Parliament passed the Data Act on March 14. The comprehensive bill was intended to “boost innovation by removing barriers obstructing access to industrial data.” Among its provisions is an article that would require smart contracts to be alterable. 

The legislation established rules for fairly sharing data generated by “connected products or related services,” such as the Internet of Things and “industrial machines.” Eighty percent of industrial data generated is never used, the Europarliament noted in a statement, and this act would encourage greater use of those resources to train algorithms and lower prices for device repairs.

The act contains provisions to protect trade secrets and avoid unlawful data transfers and it set requirements for the smart contracts of parties offering sharable data, including “safe termination and interruption”:

“The smart contract shall include internal functions which can reset or instruct the contract to stop or interrupt the operation; […] Especially, it should be assessed under which conditions non-consensual termination or interruption should be permissible.”

The act also granted smart contracts equal protection with other forms of contract.

Experts identified a number of issues with the legislation. OpenZeppelin head of solutions architecture Michael Lewellen commented in a statement provided to Cointelegraph:

“Including a kill switch undermines immutability guarantees and introduces a point of failure since someone needs to govern the use of such a kill switch. […] Many smart contracts such as Uniswap do not have this kill switch ability.”

Related: FTX proves MiCA should be passed fast, officials tell European Parliament committee

Prof. Thibault Schrepel of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam said in a tweet that the act, “endangers smart contracts to an extent that no one can predict,” and pointed out sources of legal uncertainty in the act. In particular, he found that it did not specify who could stop or interrupt a smart contract.

The bill was passed by a margin of 500-23, with 110 abstentions. Parliament members will now negotiate the final form of the law with the European Council and individual member countries of the European Union.

Circle announces USDC launch for Cosmos via Noble network

Privacy-focused blockchain network closes Aztec Connect tool

The research made with Aztec Connect will be usable and critical to the development of a next-generation blockchain, Aztec Network said.

Privacy-oriented blockchain platform Aztec is preparing to shut down Aztec Connect, the network’s privacy infrastructure serving as the encryption layer for Ethereum.

Aztec Network officially announced the upcoming closure of Aztec Connect, planning to disable Aztec Connect deposits from front-ends like zk.money and zkpay.finance on March 17.

According to a blog post by Aztec, users will be able to withdraw their funds from Aztec Connect with no fees for one year. “While withdrawals will always be possible, they will become significantly more burdensome after March 21, 2024,” Aztec said, recommending users to withdraw funds as soon as possible. Since launched in July 2022, Aztec Connect has amassed more than 100,000 users, the announcement notes.

Starting from March 2024, Aztec will no longer run a sequencer, meaning that the current system will no longer publish rollup blocks processing Aztec Connect transactions. “Contract permissions will be renounced, and all rollup functionality will be ceased,” the announcement reads.

As Aztec has fully open sourced the entire Aztec Connect protocol, the firm encourages the Aztec community to fork, deploy, and operate a new version of the system. “We’d love to see an independently-operated Aztec Connect and are ready to fund it,” Aztec said.

According to the announcement, the shutdown of Aztec Connect marks a milestone in the development of a decentralized general-use encrypted blockchain. Before launching Aztec Connect in July 2022, Aztec first experimented with using a zkRollup with Aztec 1, which was “slow, inefficient, costly” and limited in functionality to “basic private transfers.”

Source: Aztec

Aztec emphasized that the research made with Aztec Connect will be usable and critical to the development of a next-generation blockchain, providing a basis for a fully programmable version of encrypted rollups, adding:

“It’s undeniable that Aztec Connect was an important stepping stone towards realizing our ultimate goal. It’s now time for us to focus fully on that goal: a decentralized general-use encrypted blockchain.”

After closing Aztec Connect, Aztec plans to focus on the development of the universal zero-knowledge language known as Noir and the next-generation encrypted blockchain.

Related: Crypto projects respond to privacy coin ban in Dubai

The news comes amid ConsenSys preparing to release its zero-knowledge Ethereum Virtual Machine (zkEVM) rollup on a public testnet on March 28. The launch will follow more than four years of research, potentially enabling faster transactions, higher throughput and better security of settlements on the Ethereum blockchain.

Circle announces USDC launch for Cosmos via Noble network

AAVE DAO votes for ‘rescue plan’ to save lost tokens

The plan intends to allow developers to recover tokens from certain AAVE contracts and send them to owners who transferred them by mistake.

Some AAVE users who accidentally sent tokens to the wrong address may soon be able to recover them, according to the text of a proposal passed by the AAVE decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) on March 10. The proposal, called “Rescue Mission Phase 1 Long Executor,” authorized AAVE developers to upgrade smart contracts that have been mistakenly sent tokens in the past, causing the contracts to automatically send the lost tokens back to their original owners.

The confirmed proposal only affects lost AAVE, LEND, Tether (USDT), Uniswap (UNI) and staked AAVE (stkAAVE) tokens that were mistakenly sent to the AAVE token contract, the LEND token contract, the LendtoAaveMigrator, or the stAAVE token contract.

It further authorized the team to initialize a new implementation for these contracts. The Aave DAO said that during the initialization, the lost tokens will be sent automatically to a separate AaveMerkleDistributor contract, where they will afterwards be sent to the owners.

The proposal’s text emphasizes that these tokens will only be transferred during the contracts’ initialization phase, stating: “To be as less invasive as possible, these new implementations only include that extra logic on their initialize() function, with everything else remaining the same.” This seems to imply that only tokens lost in the past will be recoverable. Future tokens mistakenly sent to these addresses may be permanently lost unless a new proposal is passed in the future.

Related: Stablecoin adoption could lead to DeFi growth, says AAVE founder

Losing tokens by mistakenly transferring them to a token contract is a common problem in the crypto community. ChainSafe developer Muhammad Altabba has estimated that hundreds of millions of dollars worth of tokens and Ether (ETH) are locked in the Ethereum null address (0x0) and token contracts. One Ethereum user lost over $500 thousand worth of wrapped ETH (wETH) by transferring it to the wETH token contract instead of calling its “unwrap” function as they intended to do.

If a contract cannot be upgraded, tokens lost in this way are usually impossible to recover.

By their nature, crypto transfers are supposed to be immutable. So even if mistaken transfers can be reversed, attempts to do so are sometimes controversial. In 2016, The DAO, an early version of today’s DAOs, was exploited for $60 million worth of ETH, which the investors in the DAO presumably did not intend to happen. The majority of Ethereum validators implemented a hard fork to reverse the exploit transaction, but some validators rejected this move, creating Ethereum Classic in the process.

The AAVE DAO vote to rescue lost tokens passed was not nearly as controversial. It passed with more than 99.9% of the vote. Only 1 user voted against the proposal, using a single AAVE token to do so.

Circle announces USDC launch for Cosmos via Noble network

Blockchain Retail Market Size to Top Over $2 Billion by 2028 — Study

Blockchain Retail Market Size to Top Over  Billion by 2028 — StudyAccording to Fortune Business Insights, the global blockchain retail market size is expected to surge from the $172.2 million recorded in 2021 to over $2 billion by 2028. Both the demand for the product by end-users as well as the growing use of the technology in supply chain management are expected to sustain the market’s […]

Circle announces USDC launch for Cosmos via Noble network

While Bitcoin’s Hashrate Remains Sky-High, Merge-Mined Crypto Asset Networks Benefit

While Bitcoin’s Hashrate Remains Sky-High, Merge-Mined Crypto Asset Networks BenefitIn recent times, Bitcoin’s hashrate has been consistently above 300 exahash per second (EH/s) as multiple mining pools dedicate significant hashpower to the Bitcoin blockchain today. Interestingly, some of the world’s top bitcoin mining pools are also using their hashrate to merge-mine other coins, and these networks have benefited from bitcoin’s increased hashrate. How Bitcoin’s […]

Circle announces USDC launch for Cosmos via Noble network

Redemption and Reshuffling: BUSD’s Exit From Top 10 Cryptocurrencies Shakes Market Valuations

Redemption and Reshuffling: BUSD’s Exit From Top 10 Cryptocurrencies Shakes Market ValuationsIt has been 21 days since Paxos revealed that it would no longer mint the stablecoin BUSD. Since then, over 7 billion BUSD stablecoins have been redeemed. Prior to the announcement, BUSD was once a top-ten crypto asset. However, the top ten cryptocurrencies by market valuation have changed since the redemptions. Presently, there are only […]

Circle announces USDC launch for Cosmos via Noble network

How are crypto launchpads revolutionizing the DeFi industry?

The Web3 capital ecosystem has its own version of accelerator programs in crypto launchpads. But are these beneficial models?

How can DeFi projects benefit from launchpads?

There are several crypto launchpads, such as DAO Maker and BSCPad, that successfully operated through the previous crypto cycle. As the next crypto cycle kicks off, cryptocurrency launchpads could be a key cog in the ecosystem.

For a project to get incubated by a launchpad, it must submit extensive details to get vetted. Some of the key operational details required are permission to perform a Know Your Customer check on stakeholders, information on partners, existing investors and advisers, status of smart contract audits, the quality of user base and unit economics.

The level of due diligence that crypto launchpads conduct is essential particularly in the decentralized finance (DeFi) space. DeFi has been plagued by smart contract vulnerabilities, oracle breaches and cross chain bridge hacks. A thorough smart contract audit from a reputable audit firm can help put the investors’ mind at rest.

Therefore, for the Web3 world to flourish, effective operation of crypto launchpads is crucial — especially when the right projects with good-quality products and vision need to be identified. The model is still in its infancy and must focus on better-quality launchpad communities with a track record that spans multiple crypto cycles. This practice would make launchpads a foundational building block of the Web3 ecosystem.

What benefits do crypto launchpads provide for stakeholders in the ecosystem?

There is a tripartite dynamic in the Web3 ecosystem that encompasses the investor, the project and the community. But what does each player get for being on the launchpad? 

The most important benefit for the startup listing on a launchpad is the capital it gets from investors and community members of the launchpad. Retail investors who visit the launchpad will have the ability to look at Web3 projects listed, understand the team behind the projects along with the type of community the project has nurtured, and can invest their capital into curated opportunities. 

Web3 projects get credibility after getting listed on a launchpad, which is critical in the ecosystem. Crypto launchpads also offer a plethora of services to early-stage crypto entrepreneurs, such as tokenomics advice, marketing inputs, investor introductions and other ancillary business services. Crypto launchpads are the Web3 equivalent of incubators and accelerators in the Web2 space.

Despite these benefits, launchpads can only be as good as the quality of the community members and the key people in the community who bring the right investment opportunities. Web2 has got it right with organizations like Y Combinator, Startupbootcamp and several others pioneering the accelerator model. Web3 has yet to see such a legacy develop.

Finally, for the Web3 ecosystem, crypto launchpads have successfully created a framework to cut out the noise and identify projects that merit investors’ attention. As a result, the number of scams and rug pulls on investors should reduce as the model matures, which in turn will benefit the Web3 ecosystem on sentiment and reputational perspective.

Why is a crypto launchpad required?

Crypto launchpads offers communities access to high quality deals curated by experienced investors from the community itself. 

One primary reason why crypto launchpads exist is to give investors access to information that will aid in their decision making for investing in cryptocurrency projects. This can be a critical differentiator in a bull market, when it is hard for even the experienced investor to cut out the noise and pick good investment opportunities with sound fundamentals. 

The second reason why crypto launchpads are critical to Web3 is to offer the retail investors access to high-quality deals. In the Web2 world, retail investors generally do not get access to high-quality projects before they are listed on an exchange. They also do not have experts vetting the financials of companies and providing detailed due diligence reports. 

Access to high-quality deals and ease of decision-making based on well-researched information on potential investments are privileges only a few enjoy in Web2. With a decentralized model, launchpads — aka crypto accelerators — have opened up access for retail audiences to high-quality investment opportunities.

What is a crypto launchpad?

Crypto launchpads bring together the ethos of decentralized ecosystems and the ability of that community to make trustless investments.

The cryptocurrency industry and Web3 have been a hotbed of innovation that has put the community at the forefront. It thrives on the proliferation of decentralized ecosystems, breaking away from central hegemony by various incumbent bodies. The advent of crypto launchpads could be the beginning of a decentralized venture capital model.

Steps to use crypto launchpads

The era of Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH) paved the way to new altcoins. However, by the end of 2022, there were over 16,000 cryptocurrencies. How can an enthusiastic investor pick good projects from so many? True to its ethos around decentralization, one of the most fascinating innovations that brings together investors, projects, innovators and the retail audience is a crypto launchpad. What do these launchpads do? 

Crypto launchpads facilitate investments and empower investors to make informed decisions through rigorous due diligence. They take the pain of curating investment opportunities from retail investors and offer them the ability to invest into cryptocurrency projects at preferential terms on valuations. 

Retail investors who want to participate in these investment rounds will buy the tokens of the crypto launchpads. Depending on token holding quantity, investors are typically bucketed under tiers that determine the access and valuations they get with investment opportunities.

Terms that investors get from these launchpads vary from preferential to exclusive. Preferential investment terms are generally in line with what other investors get. However, launchpad tokenholders get first preference to invest into those opportunities. Exclusive terms are those that are offered only to launchpad tokenholders. Either way, launchpad participants benefit from the structure.

Circle announces USDC launch for Cosmos via Noble network